Monday, March 30, 2009

Not punting...

But we didn't assume she was gone and replace her. We talked to her first. And were dismayed to hear excuses for her absence, with no apology, then an announcement that she would be at every Thursday rehearsal, but that she was in yet another show and would have to leave early on Tuesdays.

At this point that was no longer cool. We cast someone in the show because we feel they would be good for that part. If someone cares more about a different project, then it gives us the impression that our show is not important to them. We were fine with the actor missing a few rehearsals because we were assured the pattern would come to an end. But when the actor took on yet another project which would draw focus.... we were done. We asked her to decide which show she was going to do, making it very clear that to do our show means fully participating in every rehearsal. She chose.

Rehearsing a show isn't just about whether each actor knows his or her lines, any more than being on a basketball team is about whether a player can dribble the ball. A play is a team project, just like a sports team. This actor did not know her blocking (where she was to stand and move about on stage). She had not built any kind of relationship with the actor playing her cohort. The other actors in the play were constantly having to remember where the missing person would be standing. Not to mention the fact that she is not the only actor who was ever missing. Every once in a while another actor or two is missing because of illness, or previous committment, and suddenly there are two or three people we have to keep in mind. And as a director trying to place 50 kids on stage when folks are missing.... It's pretty tricky to imagine where the missing kids should be.

The parent asked, "So what you're saying is that you don't want my daughter in your show?" 

Nonsense. We gave her a role. We gave her a Principal role. The message we got, however, is that said daughter doesn't much care about being in our show. No actor, regardless of their role, is above the rules that we set out at the beginning. No exceptions. We want kids who want to be here, and aren't prepared to put up with a lack of commitment. If that's upsetting to someone, then maybe that's because it's the first time a person has refused to cowtow.

Making a replacement was a piece of cake, and I'm very excited to have given another girl from the cast a chance to shine; an enthusiastic girl with talent who now will learn that she has a lot to offer.

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